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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What does "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum" mean in Latin?


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Why: It is carved in the wall of Offred's bedroom in The Handmaid's Tale. I'm pretty sure the Latin name for sapphire / ruby is similar to carborundorum.

Answer: It's fake Latin for "Don't let the bastards grind you down." Other variations (none of them correct) include:
  • Illegitimi non carborundum
  • Nil illegitimi carborundum.
  • Non illegitimis carborundum.
  • Illegitimi nil carborundum.
  • Non illegitimi carborundum.
  • Nil bastardo carborundum.
  • Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.
  • Illegitimis non carborundum.
  • Illegitimus non carborundum est.
  • Nil illegitimo in desperandum carborundum
  • Nil carborundum illegitamae
Source: Word Reference Forum / Wikipedia

The More You Know: The Latin name for sapphire / ruby is corundum - though carborundum is a hard mineral used for grinding. The fake word word carborundorum is probably a portmanteau of "carbon" and "corundum." So I was kind of right. Again.

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